Hate Speech

Statement Condemning Hate Speech Against the Yazidis

June 15, 2023

This statement highlights a deeply concerning development: a significant increase in hate speech directed towards the Yazidi community in Kurdistan. Over the past two months, the Yazidis, who were previously victims of the Islamic State (ISIL), have become the targets of a new wave of hate speech that poses a serious threat to their safety, well-being, and overall livelihood. The catalyst for this alarming escalation was a fabricated and baseless accusation of burning a mosque in Sinjar, which triggered an unprecedented surge of radical hate speech across social media and various religious platforms throughout the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Despite clear denials from both security forces and the Representative of the Iraqi Sunni Endowment in Sinjar regarding any attacks by the Yazidi community on the mosque, the hate speech continued to intensify against the Yazidis, primarily fueled Islamist platforms in the Kurdistan region. For instance, the Islamic Facebook page, Reka Rast, shared several videos of Mullahs calling Yazidis, Infidels, and accusing them of animosity against the majority Muslims.

Disturbingly, this hate speech also included justifications for the Yazidi genocide committed by ISIL in 2014, as stated by the French Embassy in Baghdad.

The advancements in social media and communication technologies have exacerbated the gravity of the situation, making this wave of hate speech against the Yazidis even more dangerous than previous incidents. According to the Masarat Foundation and its General Director, Saad Salloum, an astonishing number of over 4 million hate speech incidents were reported in less than a month. The majority of these incidents originated from mosques in Dohuk and the wider Kurdistan area, subsequently spreading rapidly through social media and other online platforms.

The situation has been further exacerbated by the alarming calls for expulsion of the Yazidis from the region, advocated by several Mullahs, including Mullah Antar in Dohuk, Ali Khalid in Erbil, Dana Qubadi in Erbil, Mullah Dr. Yahia Tawhidi, Mullah Hukmet Bradosti in Dohuk, Mullah Zada in Duhok, Mullah Mamosta Kirkuki in Kirkuk. Many of these Mullahs, including Dana Qubadi, encouraged mass protests to pressure the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to expel the Yazidi IDPs from the region. The Masaraat Foundation argued that the sheer number of hate speech incidents and their widespread proliferation represent an unprecedented level of danger, serving as a wake-up call for both civil society and the government to respond promptly to prevent new hate crimes.

The rise of this hateful and radical rhetoric has instilled fear and triggered traumatic memories within the Yazidi community in Kurdistan. As a result, many have felt compelled to leave the camps without proper support or rehabilitation from governmental or international entities, as they attempt to return to their ancestral home in Sinjar. Public spaces in Dohuk have become anxiety-inducing for the Yazidis, as they fear the translation of hate speech into hate crimes targeting their community. Moreover, the hate speech particularly targets and legitimizes the genocidal campaign by ISIL in 2014, reawakening the unhealed trauma within the Yazidi community and leaving many individuals uncertain about their safety and future within Iraq.

The escalation of hateful and radical rhetoric against the Yazidis raises serious questions about their prospects and well-being in Iraq. Multiple local, national, and international organizations, including Yazda, Nadia Initiative, Refugees International, and the Masarat Foundation, along with the French Embassy, have issued warnings regarding the urgent need for a comprehensive governmental and international response to address the surge in hate speech. These organizations have warned that failure to do so could result in the translation of hate speech into hate crimes and even crimes against humanity targeting the Yazidis. Furthermore, the revival of radical ideologies and the perpetuation of hatred pose a significant threat to the social fabric, cohesion, and coexistence not only within Kurdistan but throughout Iraq as a whole, providing an opportunity for radical terrorist organizations, such as ISIL, to regroup and regain strength. Therefore, the hate speech targeting the Yazidis not only poses a grave threat to their community but also endangers the already fragile Iraqi society, and particularly its minority groups.

Bellwether International stands in complete solidarity with the Yazidi community and condemns hate speech in any form. We remain committed to serving the Yazidi community and working directly with the Yazidi community to ensure a safe, hopeful, and peaceful future.

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